Becoming a Psychologist
I am currently a third-year psychology major with a minor in counseling. I attend the illustrious Grand Canyon University. I want to get my PhD in psychology and I plan on becoming a clinical psychologist. I wanted to obtain experience in clinical psychology so that I could gain a better understanding of what this career would entail, and whether I would enjoy it. I contacted 15 clinical psychologists based near to where I live in Phoenix. Many of them offered me shadowing experience for next summer in a form of an internship, but only one offered me a three-day shadowing experience.
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The work experience that I obtained was with Alex Gomez, a clinical psychologist at a low-secure psychiatric unit where half the patients were mentally ill patients. All the patients were sectioned under the Mental Health Act.
“Clinical psychologists work in a variety of environments, including schools, prisons, research institutions, colleges and universities, businesses and organizations, and private practice and even sometimes laboratories.” (J.D., 2017). They even work with different people such as physiatrists, other psychologists, biochemical engineers, therapists, counselors, and more. “In addition to working directly with patients, they may also assume roles as researchers or educators.
“A career as a clinical psychologist usually requires a doctoral degree, although in some cases a master’s degree is sufficient, especially for those who intend to work solely in counseling.” (J.D.,2017). Of course, those who have a doctorate degree have more opportunities. “The lowest overall rates (less than 6 percent) were found in the health service provider subfields: clinical, counseling, and school psychology.” (J.D.,2017). “In 2013, attrition rates noticeably spiked in social, cognitive, and other applied subfields. In addition, Median Annual Salary. “According to the most current Occupational Outlook Handbook from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median national annual salary for clinical psychologists is $70,580.” (J.D., 2017)
The experience I gained was amazing and different. I found myself immersed in the day-to-day work of front-line clinical psychology. Shadowing Alex, I sat in on sessions that she conducted with individual patients, attended many of the meetings that are involved with the job (e.g. ward rounds, where each patient is discussed, with care, and so on being evaluated), and helped run a group session. I was even given the opportunity to help write up a study.
Sessions were amazing, I got to see what it was like to see patients who had real mental disorders from their standpoint. I had the honor of meeting them also and asking questions Alex wanted me to answer. In addition, I noticed that the most common diagnoses were schizophrenia, depression and anxiety disorders. I also had the opportunity to shadow over their treatment in which it was Cognitive behavioral therapy. For me, that was the best part because I have gone through it personally, but I never knew what it was like from the other perspective. After, we reflected with the patient and the team on all of our thoughts just so that I could get an overall view from each perspective. Through this experience, I was able to learn a lot of techniques in which one was meditation. I struggle with anxiety myself so learning how to cope through other people’s sessions was amazing to me. I took and gave to the sessions. Then, Alex took me to the back where I wrote in the journal article on what happened during the session. She also let me shadow her with the information she gave me to put into the system. I felt that was really neat. To conclude, the third day, we reflected, and she gave me feedback on how I did, and what to expect in the future.
This shadowing experience gave me insight that it is not just a nine-to-five job. In fact, this field of study is very demanding. As I watched how Alex was curious about her studies and her work, I understood that it takes time and dedication. In addition, it was also amazing shadowing over the patients in a real matter because they actually have these issues going on with them. It felt so real and I want to become a clinical psychologist, not because of the money but to help others just like Alex. I am glad I have this experience and I honestly believe I have chosen the right field of study.